Local families are concerned that the expansion of the city of Sacramento's bait bike program into South Sacramento could turn neighborhood juveniles into felony offenders.
Sacramento police responded to those concerns in a community meeting Monday night held at the Lord's Gym & Youth Center space on Massie Court.
"Most of these individuals that we're arresting are on probation or parole and we're tying them to bigger crimes. Larger theft type cases," Sacramento Police Captain Dave Peletta said.
Peletta told FOX40 out of 168 bait bike deployments in 2015, the program netted 60 arrested. He said the majority of the suspects were white males from 30-49 years old, and that 58 out of the 60 had previous felony arrests.
"One issue is whether or not the bikes are entrapping young people, giving them a criminal record," Sacramento Mayor Pro Tem Larry Carr said.
Carr said he understood the community's concerns, and would present the data proving the program was a crime fighting tool, and not a medium to punish minors.
"Why don't they look at investing in programs in the community, keeping some of these doors and resources open instead of punishing kids," one neighbor said.
"Wouldn't it benefit the community and the police department more if these bikes were $140 as opposed to $1,000? So it's not a felony? So the rest of that money could be used on other programs?" another neighbors asked.
Captain Peletta told the crowd that no juveniles had ever been arrested in connection with one of Sacramento's bait bike operations. Other city officials added that even if a juvenile were to steal a bait bike in South Sacramento, the law is set up to rehabilitate minor offenders instead of keeping them in the system.
The expansion into South Sacramento includes three new bait bikes, worth $1,000 each, that were donated to the Sacramento Police Department by the Mack Road Partnership and the Florin Road Partnership.
"Before you start attacking the police, let's ask what we can do for our community. What can we bring to the table? Because we're doing a lot of things already," one neighbor said.